You’d normally pay an arm and a leg for stunning white beaches, picturesque countryside, fragrant cuisine, and buzzing nightlife but thanks to the relative weakness of the Thai baht, Thailand has become one of the world’s most popular yet inexpensive holiday destinations over the last decade.
It’s possible to get by on a budget of 700 baht per day by staying in cheaper hostels, using local transport, without splurging on expensive meals out or large quantities of alcohol. Street food can be a good option to keep costs down as it will be a lot cheaper than guesthouse food, but you may need an adventurous palate.
Those on a stricter budget or who want to avoid the main tourist hordes should head for quieter islands like Ko Chang, national parks like Khao Yai and Khao Sok, or rural Isaan in the northern part of the country, which sees far fewer tourists. Another way to beat the crowds and save money is to visit in the low season of July and August when prices will be at their lowest.
Mid-range and luxury travellers
In the mid-range price band visitors can expect to pay around 1,000 baht for an air-conditioned hotel room, and 300-400 baht for a Western-style meal. For those with cash to splash five star hotels will be similar to western prices.
Prices are approximate and subject to change.
Thai Baht exchange rate
One of the reasons that so many millions of tourists flock to Thailand every year is the favourable exchange rate between the Thai baht and most of the European and North American currencies. There are currently around 55 Thai baht to the pound, but bear in mind that exchange rates are volatile and can fluctuate, even from day to day.
Thai currency tips
To get a competitive exchange rate on the Thai baht head to the Post Office and change your money before you get to the airport.
Thai bank notes come in denominations of 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht and 1,000 baht. You can no longer get 10 baht notes although old ones are still in circulation
The 10 baht note was replaced by a coin several years ago, but the notes are still used occasionally, especially outside the major cities.
The baht is comprised of 100 satang, and its coins come in denominations of 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 baht, 2 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht.
When you first arrive in the country, make sure that you have some Thai currency in lower denominations (a few 50 baht notes would be ideal), as taxi drivers and smaller shops might not be able or willing to accept larger notes.
Tipping is not generally considered necessary in Thailand, but it is customary to leave behind some loose change when paying the bill in a restaurant, and a service charge may be added to the bill in hotel restaurants, or the more upmarket eateries in the big cities.
Pickpockets are increasingly common, especially in the major tourist areas, so don’t keep large sums of money in your wallet – instead carry only the money you are likely to need that day and keep the rest of your cash in several different places in your luggage.
Keep track of your spending
One pound is currently worth around 55 bahts. Therefore, the easiest way to get a rough idea of how much something costs in pounds is to divide the baht cost by 55. Remember that exchange rates can vary, so the rate given is only approximate, and make sure you keep an eye on exchange rates before and during your trip to know how much you’re spending.
Thai currency facts
The Thai baht is the sole legal currency of Thailand, and is issued by the Bank of Thailand
In 2007 the Bank of Thailand introduced a new silver 2 baht coin that was only slightly larger than the existing one baht coin, and consequently very easily confused. You will often find that someone has written a number ‘2’ on the coin with a marker, in order to differentiate it. A new, brass-coloured, 2 baht coin was issued in 2009, in order to reduce this confusion
The satang coins are so low in value as to be almost worthless, and once received are very hard to dispense with. Some tourists keep them as souvenirs; others give them away to beggars, or as tips
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